09/22/2017 1:56PM

Battle of Midway, Girvin lead strong cast for Oklahoma Derby

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Benoit & Associates
Battle of Midway enters the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby off a victory in the Shared Belief Stakes on Aug. 26 at Del Mar.

The Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby will have one of its strongest renewals in recent memory Sunday when Battle of Midway, who ran third in the Kentucky Derby, and Girvin, who took the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational, lead a field of eight at Remington Park.

The card features 10 stakes in total, with the 12-race program to start at 3 p.m. Central. The Oklahoma Derby, at 1 1/8 miles, is the main event and part of an all-stakes pick four that covers races 9-12 and has a minimum guaranteed pool of $100,000. Other highlights on the $1.3 million card include an appearance by champion filly Champagne Room in the $200,000 Remington Park Oaks.

Battle of Midway is one of three Southern California invaders for the Oklahoma Derby, along with B Squared and Gato Del Oro. Girvin is in from Kentucky, as is Colonelsdarktemper, the winner of the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby; Untrapped, who has been second or third in five graded stakes this year; and McCormick, the runner-up in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby. The field is completed by Altito, a son of Bernardini and Kentucky Oaks winner Summerly.

:: Get bonus PPs and watch Sunday’s Oklahoma Derby card live from Remington Park

Oklahoma Derby (Race 11)

KEY CONTENDERS

Battle of Midway, by Smart Strike
Last 3 Beyers: 101-81-94

◗ Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said there were a couple of reasons to target the Oklahoma Derby with Battle of Midway following his victory in the $100,000 Shared Belief in his last start Aug. 26 at Del Mar.

“It was the timing of the race, and it fit with what we’re trying to do,” he said. “If we can run good in this race, we’d like to go to the Dirt Mile, with the thought being that he won by six lengths at Del Mar. He likes that track –ran a big number there.”

The $1 million BC Dirt Mile will be run Nov. 3 at Del Mar.

Battle of Midway earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 101 in the Shared Belief – the best last-race number in the Oklahoma Derby field. With blinkers added, he came from just off the pace in the one-mile race.

◗ Owned by Don Alberto Stable and WinStar Farm, Battle of Midway has one other stakes win, the Grade 3 Affirmed at Santa Anita.

“He’s been seven out of eight in the money, with four wins,” Hollendorfer said. “He’s won half of his races. We think we have a legitimate colt.”

◗ Flavien Prat has the mount from post 3.

Girvin, by Tale of Ekati
Last 3 Beyers: 81-95-102

◗ He became a Grade 1 winner in the Haskell, getting up by a nose in a field that included Practical Joke, the next-out winner of the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial at Saratoga. Girvin has raced once since the Haskell, finishing 11th in the Travers on Aug. 26 at Saratoga.

“I don’t have much of an explanation for the performance in the Travers,” said trainer Joe Sharp. “I don’t think he handled that surface, as many don’t. I think Remington is a track that he’ll handle. In the past, it’s kind of been a formful and fast track.”

◗ Girvin will be cutting back from 1 1/4 miles to the distance of his wins in the Haskell and Louisiana Derby. He’s been sharpened for the task with a pair of half-mile moves. Girvin will break from post 8 under Robby Albarado.

“He’s training great,” Sharp said. “I think you’ll see the old Girvin back, like we did in the Haskell.”

◗ Sharp and Girvin’s owner, Brad Grady, have won Remington’s biggest race for 2-year-olds, the Springboard Mile.

Colonelsdarktemper, by Colonel John
Last 3 Beyers: 93-95-90

◗ He has raced once since his West Virginia Derby win, finishing third behind Pavel and Talk Logistics in the Grade 3 Smarty Jones on Sept. 4 at Parx.

“We carried seven more pounds than the two that beat us,” said Jinks Fires, who trains Colonelsdarktemper. “I think that had something to do with it, having to carry more weight. But they were nice horses, don’t get me wrong.”

B Squared, by Square Eddie
Last 3 Beyers: 66-96-87

◗ The winner of the Silky Sullivan in April at Golden Gate Fields, he has held his own in Southern California, finishing second to Battle of Midway in the Affirmed and third to West Coast, the eventual winner of the Travers, in the Los Alamitos Derby.

“He’s got speed, he’s got class,” trainer Doug O’Neill said of B Squared, a full brother to Grade 1 winner Ralis.

◗ B Squared will add blinkers after finishing eighth in the West Virginia Derby.

“We’re going to put a line through that,” O’Neill said. “We shipped in right on top of the race, and it just wasn’t perfect. This race, everything is coming together better.”

◗ Mario Gutierrez has the mount from post 2.